Massaging edema, or swelling, in the legs begins with elevating the leg for at least 10 minutes, then massaging the swollen area, moving gradually up toward the groin. The purpose of this is to guide the excess fluid back into the bloodstream, notes Progressive Health.
Elevating the leg for 10 to 15 minutes allows some or most of the fluid buildup to return to the circulatory system, as the body sends it back toward the heart. Keep the leg elevated above the heart for the entire massage. Start massage movements at the point of swelling, and move toward the heart using individual movements that push upward toward the heart and using a sequence of movements that also progress closer and closer to the heart, stopping below the groin. In addition to massage, passive and active forms of exercise accelerate the return of fluid to the bloodstream, easing the edema over time, as stated by Progressive Health.
In normal cases, the body eliminates excess fluid before it has the chance to gather in tissues; however, conditions ranging from pregnancy to more dangerous causes, such as kidney disease, liver damage or heart problems, cause fluid to take up residence in the legs or other parts of the body. When swelling takes place as the result of fluid buildup, the condition is known as edema. Massage treatment is one way to resolve the edema, according to Progressive Health.